For many high school students, the academic essay is an unforgiving monster that terrorizes their campus, a nightmarish beast that can rip the heart out of G.P.A.'s and dash all hopes for college admission. Yet, others tame this friend with ease, bending its cruel will to theirs as if it was nothing, as if they possessed a secret weapon. Well, guess what? They do! Successful essayists succeed because they are armed with the exact knowledge of what an essay is and how it is made; they know an essay is an organized group of paragraphs that strongly assert and vividly support a central idea. Further, they know the organization of an academic essay is as easy as one, two, three: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion are its three essential parts.
For starters then, let us begin with the introduction. Its job is to move from the general to the specific, to introduce the essay's topic, clarify its central idea, and detail its thesis statement. Yet, before it can do that, it should attempt to "hook" the reader by catching his interest with some appropriate bait. The first way to hook a reader is by centering an original title above the introduction. Please note the word original in that last sentence. Lazy and generic titles like "English Essay" or "Crucible Essay" are not effective because they are neither informative nor interesting. After an original title, a good introduction begins with one or two interesting sentences that serve to focus the essay's general topic. With that done, the writer becomes more specific and introduces the essay's central idea. A central idea is simply a clear statement of the writer's opinion or position on the general topic. In my introduction to this ...
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...oes not mean that it is as unstoppable as Godzilla. Indeed, the curse of the essay is quite manageable if one keeps in mind its underlying characteristics. The basic academic essay is five logically related paragraphs that argue and defend a central idea, and the way it is structured is simplicity itself. When the writer keeps in mind the three parts of an essay-the introduction, the body, and the conclusion-then much of the anxiety and confusion associated with essay writing can be vanquished. Like Frankenstein's creature, essays are put together from separate parts, but because they are composed of logically related ideas, they are an invention that can be tamed by organized thinking. Indeed, writers who plan carefully and follow their plan are pleased to find that their brainchild is no fear-inspiring monster, but rather a creation that reveals their true genius.
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